The 2017 Daytime Emmy Awards will be handed out on April 30, but the winners in the soap opera acting categories have already been decided by blue ribbon panels that viewed sample performance reels. In the race for Best Actress, Gina Tognoni (“The Young and the Restless”) is nominated for the second time for playing Phyllis Abbott, a role she assumed in 2014. Before that she earned two Emmys in the supporting category in 2006 and 2008 for her role as Dinah Marler on “Guiding Light” and an additional nomination in that category in 2007. Looking to win her first Emmy as a leading actress, Tognoni has submitted scenes where her character deals with the aftermath of her victimization. Watch her reel above.
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Victor Newman (Eric Braeden) is on trial for various crimes, most significantly hiring a look-alike named Marco to impersonate his nemesis Jack Abbott (Best Actor nominee Peter Bergman). Phyllis takes the stand and explains that although she had noticed her husband Jack acting strangely, she had never suspected that he was actually an impersonator. She describes how Marco took Jack’s place on their honeymoon, and describes how she repeatedly had sex with a man to whom she had never given consent — that was rape. She then lashes out at Victor for not doing anything to stop it and screams her hatred for Victor, forcing the judge to have her removed from the courtroom.
Later Phyllis is drinking wine at the home of Jack’s brother Billy (Jason Thompson). Billy tells her that she needs to go home to Jack, but Phyllis can’t face him. It is then revealed that Phyllis had an affair with Billy, and Jack confronts Phyllis about her betrayal. Phyllis pleads with Jack to understand that she felt emotionally empty after realizing she had been repeatedly raped by Marco, and that she was just trying to feel whole again. But Jack is unforgiving, and leaves Phyllis crying on the floor.
Will Tognoni win Best Actress with this performance against Nancy Lee Grahn (“General Hospital”), Heather Tom (“The Bold and the Beautiful”), Jess Walton (“Y&R”), and Laura Wright (“GH”)? Let’s consider the pros and cons.
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Tognoni’s performance is full of big emotions and significant impact, perfect elements of a winning Emmy submission. Her moments on the stand begin quietly, building to an outcry of pain, rage and tears, as well as earning the audience’s sympathy for what she has endured. Her scenes with Bergman are equally powerful as Phyllis tries to explain the damage done to her due to her ordeal, ending with her collapse in a pool of tears on the floor.
The popularity of this character with Emmy voters could work in Tognoni’s favor. Her predecessor in the role, Michelle Stafford, earned a staggering 10 Emmy nominations while playing the character, winning Best Supporting Actress in 1997 and Best Actress in 2004.
Tognoni’s previous Emmy wins were in the supporting category, and after more than two decades in daytime television, voters might be looking to award her for the first time in the lead race.
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The reel is certainly emotional, but those emotions include a lot of screaming and anger. Voters might look to reward a performance that has a bit more subtlety and emotional range.
At just under eight minutes, Tognoni’s reel is by far the shortest in this category. In contrast, her competitors’ reels give them more time to impress voters with their performances.
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